A. Dirk Moses

Dirk MosesA. Dirk Moses has taught history at the University of Sydney since 2000. He was professor of global and colonial history at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy, from 2011 to 2015. A native of Brisbane, Australia, he was educated at the Universities of Queensland (B.A. 1987), St. Andrews (M.Phil. 1990), Notre Dame (M.A. 1994), and California, Berkeley (Ph.D. 2000). Before coming to Sydney, he was a research fellow at the University of Freiburg where he worked on postwar German debates about the recent past, a project that appeared as German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (Cambridge, 2007), winner of the H-Soz-u-Kult “The Historical Book of the Year” prize for contemporary history.

All the while, Dirk Moses has pursued a parallel interest in genocide, on which he has published many articles, book chapters, and edited books, including the prize-winning Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation and Subaltern Resistance in World History (Berghahn 2008/pbk 2009). Most recently, he has co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Genocide Research on the Nigeria-Biafra war, 1967-1970. He has held fellowships in Germany and the U.S.A., including, in 2010, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. for his project on the “Diplomacy of Genocide,” a study of genocide claims in postcolonial secessionist civil wars in the 1960s and early 1970s. He is currently finishing a critical intellectual history of the genocide concept and historiography.


Presented Lecture: “The Problems of Genocide”

I have become increasingly troubled by the depoliticization of the genocide concept — its reduction to a mass hate crime — which lies at the heart of the relatively new field of genocide studies and its older sibling, Holocaust studies. Concepts like genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes cannot be taken for granted, as naturally given, as possessing timeless validity, or as crowning redemptive developments in moral sensibility. This paper historicizes and critiques the legal architecture we have inherited from the 1940s and questions its effects on our perception of mass criminality.


Selective List of Publications

  • “Partitions and the Sisyphean Making of Peoples,” Refugee Watch, 47 (2016).
  • “Protecting Human Rights and Preventing Genocide: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Will to Intervene,” in Adam Muller, Karen Busby, and Andrew Woolford, eds., The Idea of a Human Rights Museum (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015).
  • Colonial Counterinsurgency and Mass Violence: The Dutch Empire in Indonesia (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014). Contributing co-editor.
  • “The Nigeria-Biafra War: Postcolonial Conflict and the Question of Genocide, 1967-1970,” Journal of Genocide Research, 16: 2-3 (2014). Written with Lasse Heerten.
  • “Das römische Gespräch in a New Key: Hannah Arendt, Genocide, and the Defense of Republican Civilization,” Journal of Modern History, 85:4 (2013).
  • The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). Contributing co-editor.
  • Genocide: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies (Routledge, 2010). Contributing editor, six volumes.
  • German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).